As the Landesastenkonferenz Hamburg, we currently see massive social and financial problems impacting students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students live under precarious conditions and are therefore particularly hard hit by the crisis. We call on the City of Hamburg, and in particular the Finance Authority and the BWFGB, to contain the financial impact on students and to specifically address their needs in the new edition of the Hamburg Aid Fund for Students.
The Hamburg Aid Fund for students in financial need due to the pandemic was first initiated by the Ministry of Science, Research, Equality and Districts in April 2020. With the expiration of the nationwide bridging aid for students in September 2020, there is now a new edition of the Hamburg Aid Fund, from which students can apply for 400€ per month from October 28, 2020.
In principle, we welcome BWFGB's quick action both with regard to the original initiation of the aid fund and with regard to the new edition of the fund from October 2020. Nevertheless, the following points in connection with the award criteria and loan conditions meet with our absolute incomprehension:
We criticize the fact that the monthly sum provided by the aid fund is still a loan. The financial situation of Hamburg's students will not improve to such an extent, even as the pandemic and its effects subside, that they will be able to cope with an additional financial burden resulting from the repayment installments. Even in the event that a return to usual gainful employment is possible, repayment represents an unsustainable burden for students. We call for the loan to be converted into a full grant.
Furthermore, the monthly loan amount of 400€ is disproportionate to the living costs of an average of 1000€ that students in Hamburg have to cope with. We therefore call for an increase of the funding amount up to 850€.
When reviewing applications, students must prove that they are suffering corona-related losses, and the student's current account balance is also used. As before, the application is only approved if the account balance is less than 300 euros. We consider this criterion to be an absolute impertinence. This denies students the right to raise the cost of living for the coming months through minimal reserves. We demand that the limit for reserves be lifted or increased to at least 1000€. The Hamburg loan in its current form even falls short of the original demands of the science policy spokespersons of the governing parties.
In total, an account balance of less than 300€ and a loan amount of 400€ do not even result in the cost of living for one month. Students in financial need without BAföG entitlement cannot receive any other social benefits and are thus forced to discontinue their studies. Against this background, the Hamburg Aid Fund completely ignores the reality of life and the acute plight of students.
Finally, we would like to point out that social security for students in acute emergencies is fundamentally the responsibility of the Federal Minister of Education, Anja Karliczek. Opening up BAföG therefore remains an indispensable step.
Until then, at least the BWFGB and the Hamburg financial authorities should take the students' plight seriously and adjust their aid measures accordingly.
The Hamburg LandesAstenKonferenz (LAK)
- Hamburg University
- Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
- Hamburg University of Technology
- HafenCity University Hamburg
- Hamburg University of Fine Arts
- Hamburg University of Music and Theatre